Charles and Camilla greet well-wishers as they remember Queen Elizabeth II on the anniversary of her death

8 September 2023, 13:45 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 15:31

Charles and Camilla travelled to Crathie Kirk to commemorate the life and service of the former monarch
Charles and Camilla travelled to Crathie Kirk to commemorate the life and service of the former monarch. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The King and Queen have marked the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's death with a poignant moment of prayers and reflection in the church where she worshipped.

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Charles and Camilla travelled to Crathie Kirk to commemorate the life and service of the former monarch who reigned for 70 years before dying peacefully at her Balmoral home on September 8 last year.

Afterwards the King and his wife went on a walkabout and smiled and shared jokes with Balmoral Estate staff, members of the royal household, Crathie Primary pupils and residents from the nearby town of Ballater, who treated the Queen as one of their own.

Charles and Camilla received bouquets and cards from well-wishers
Charles and Camilla received bouquets and cards from well-wishers. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Prince Harry spotted leaving Windsor Castle after paying respects to the Queen at St George's Chapel

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The past 12 months were described by a royal expert as a "momentous" period for the head of state who fulfilled his role in leading the nation as he grieved for his mother.

The royal couple were joined at the church, close to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, by the late Queen's niece and nephew, Lady Sarah Chatto and the Earl of Snowdon, who were close to their aunt, with Lady Sarah seeing the monarch often.

The earl was accompanied by his daughter Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, and Lady Sarah by her husband Daniel and children Samuel and Arthur.

he King and Queen today attended a special service in memory of The Queen
he King and Queen today attended a special service in memory of The Queen. Picture: Alamy

The Rev Kenneth Mackenzie, minister of Crathie Kirk, who officiated at the event, said: "It was a simple reflective time, a time where we were able to give thanks for the life of the late Queen and recognise the poignancy of this day for that family and this community, as well as the nation and Commonwealth.

"I think that those of us that did get to see the Queen in different situations, but particularly up here, felt it today, were reminded of the loss.

"But we were also glad, just as the family were able to gather here last year, some members of the family were able to be here.

"And wherever they might be, in their own homes or wherever, I'm glad that people will have the opportunity to reflect and gives some thanks for the life of the Queen."

The event was a deeply personal moment for the King, who became sovereign when his mother died at the age of 96 in her Platinum Jubilee year.

The poignant mood of the day lightened when Charles and Camilla left the church and stepped into brilliant autumn sunshine to meet well-wishers.

The King and Queen laughed and joked with schoolchildren who presented them each with a bouquet of flowers, and Charles quipped: "Have you got to go back to school now?"

Alistair Cassie, who has run his general hardware store in Ballater for more than 40 years, greeted the King informally and shared a few words with him.

He said afterwards: "It feels the honourable thing to do to be here because the King has been very, very good to Ballater over the years, right back from the time of the floods he's given a lot of help to people, very quietly too."

Mr Cassie joked: "I used to do some work at Balmoral and I used to meet the Queen quite a lot - if I saw a corgi coming I used to move away."

During the walkabout Charles told a group of young women from his household: "Thank you for coming - have a bit of a rest after all this."

The Prince and Princess of Wales, who will visit the Welsh cathedral of St Davids for a short private service on Friday, paid their own tribute to the late Queen on the anniversary of her death, saying: "We all miss you."

The message, written by William and Kate on Twitter, now known as X, said: "Today we remember the extraordinary life and legacy of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We all miss you. W & C."

It was accompanied by a family photograph of the late Queen surrounded by her great-grandchildren, including Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and her two youngest grandchildren.

The Waleses were pictured on the Buckingham Palace balcony with the late Queen and Charles during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, with another image of the Queen dressed in a vibrant blue coat and hat.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Sussex visited St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, to pay his respects.

The Chapel, where the late Queen's moving Committal Service was held, is home to Elizabeth II's final resting place - the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

An image of Harry leaving St George's on Friday morning circulated on social media.

Princess Eugenie remembered her grandmother, writing on Instagram: "Thinking of you today. Missing you so much."

She included a personal memory - an image of herself sat next to the late Queen in the sunshine on a wooden bench outside what appeared to be a cabin on the Balmoral estate.

The late Queen's senior dresser and confidante Angela Kelly also posted a moving message addressed to Elizabeth II, saying: "I will never forget you. I will always love you. I miss you my friend."

Ms Kelly, who worked for the Queen for more than 25 years and had an unparalleled bond with the monarch, was staying at Balmoral the week she died.

The King recorded a message and released a favourite photograph of his mother.

Charles, in words written and audio spoken at Balmoral Castle, said he recalled with "great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us".

He added: "I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all."

The formal colour photograph chosen by Charles was taken by Cecil Beaton and shows the Queen aged 42 in 1968.

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